United get lucky to end Stamford Bridge hoodoo
MANCHESTER UNITED’S 10-year wait for a league win at Stamford Bridge came to an end as they beat nine-man Chelsea 3-2.
The Red Devils got off to a lucky start when Robin van Persie’s shot hit the post, then rebounded into the goal off David Luiz to put the visitors ahead after just four minutes.
And it got worse for Chelsea as Antonio Valencia’s driven cross found van Persie, who fired the ball past a helpless Petr Cech to double the lead on 12 minutes, putting the leaders in United’s ‘catch-up’ position.
It was a scoreline that didn’t reflect the match though, as Chelsea were the dominant team for much of the first half, and had plenty of opportunities, but couldn’t quite get the decisive touch.
David De Gea did extremely well to keep out Fernando Torres’ header, clawing it away at full stretch, and Jonny Evans’ touch was enough to put John Obi Mikel’s cross onto the post.
In a moment of madness, Wayne Rooney hacked down Eden Hazard from behind on the edge of the box, which should have earned him a red card, but referee Mark Clattenburg deemed it a yellow card offence. Still, United were penalized as Juan Mata expertly curled the resultant free kick in at the far post to give the hosts a chance going into half time.
Chelsea’s momentum continued after the break, and they put early pressure on De Gea in the United goal who mis-cued a goal kick that almost created a four-on-three situation, but United’s defence reacted quickly to stifle the threat.
However, the visitors failed to clear the ball minutes later and, after a couple of balls were pinged across the box, Ramires found Oscar’s cross in the middle to head home the equaliser.
The momentum Chelsea had built up was brought to a sudden halt though, as two red cards around the hour mark reduced the hosts to nine men. Branislav Ivanovic was first after clipping Ashley Young’s heels as the winger raced through on goal. The Serbian had few complaints despite Young making the most of his tumble.
Chelsea won’t be too impressed at the dismissal of Fernando Torres though, as the striker was caught by Evans when he was through on goal. Like Ivanovic on Young, it was the slightest of touches, and the Spaniard could have remained on his feet. Instead, he went down and Clattenburg judged Torres to have dived and produced a second yellow card to leave the Blues with nine men with 20 minutes to go.
From here, United seized the advantage and ruled the rest of the match as Chelsea desperately tried to keep them out.
It was substitute Javier Hernandez who proved clinical as he scored the winner. After another van Persie shot spun and hit the post, a poor clearance from Chelsea was picked up by Rafael whose shot was deflected in by the Mexican, but the Blues won’t be happy that the United striker wasn’t flagged offside.
Both sides created a few more opportunities that came to nothing, handing United all three points and the psychological advantage going into Wednesday’s Capital One Cup tie.
Chelsea: Cech 7, Ivanovic 5, Cole 6, David Luiz 5, Cahill 5, Ramires 7, Mata 8, Oscar 7, Mikel 6, Hazard 6, Torres 5. Subs: Azpilicueta (Oscar ’66) 5, Bertrand (Mata ’72) 5, Sturridge (Hazard ’82) 4. Not Used: Turnbull, Romeu, Moses, Marin.
Man United: De Gea 7, Rafael 7, Evra 6, Ferdinand 6, Evans 7, Valencia 7, Carrick 6, Young 6, Cleverley 7, Rooney 6, van Persie 7. Subs: Hernandez (Cleverley ’65) 7, Giggs (Rooney ’74) 5. Not Used: Lindegaard, Anderson, Nani, Scholes, Welbeck.
Quays News Man of the Match: Juan Mata - by far the best player on the pitch, despite being on the losing team and going off after 72 minutes. His free-kick was top drawer, and his effort was 110% as he orchestrated the Chelsea midfield. He may well be the new Frank Lampard for the Blues.
By Will Moorcroft
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